Years after legalizing gay marriage, Ireland finally removes homophobic and misogynistic teaching material

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11/11/2021

Irish education officials have removed teaching material that asked teenage students to discuss inflammatory, false statements such as “all gays molest children,” “girls who don’t wear make-up are lesbian” and “all gays are HIV positive.” The online teaching resources, developed after relationships and sexuality education became a compulsory part of the school curriculum in the 1990s, were used as recently as April, according to Pamela O’Leary, a guidance counselor from Cork who lobbied for their removal. “I was repeatedly told that despite the highly problematic content some schools still found these resources ‘useful,’ ” O’Leary tweeted Wednesday. “A useful way of minimizing the ugliness of homophobic and misogynistic elements of Irish society,” she added. She posted screenshots of some of the now-deleted materials on Wednesday. The pictures included statements such as “you can change from being a homosexual” and “homosexuals try to make others homosexual,” that the students were invited to debate. Similar rhetoric — which has been debunked by scientists and policymakers — was used for decades in anti-gay campaigns. Ireland, which legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, was one of the first countries to have a gay head of government. Leo Varadkar served as the country’s first openly gay taoiseach, or prime minister, from 2017 to 2020. Varadkar’s political success — he is set to become prime minister again in about a year — was viewed as emblematic of Ireland’s transition to a more socially liberal society as it increasingly leaves conservative Roman Catholic traditions out of public life.

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